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Impeachment

Impeachment

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Published by Robert Gehrke
This is a memo outlining the process for impeaching an elected official in Utah. This memo was prepared in January. An updated version of the memo was given to lawmakers June 19.
This is a memo outlining the process for impeaching an elected official in Utah. This memo was prepared in January. An updated version of the memo was given to lawmakers June 19.

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Published by: Robert Gehrke on Jun 19, 2013
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08/02/2013

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Michael E. ChristensenDirector John L. FellowsGeneral Counsel
Utah State Capitol ComplexHouse Building, Suite W210PO Box 145210Salt Lake City, Utah84114-5210Phone (801) 538-1032Fax (801) 538-1712www.le.utah.gov
Memorandum
To:Utah State SenatorsFrom:John L. Fellows, General CounselDate:January 21, 2013Re:Utah Impeachment Process
Impeachment: Utah Process
I. Introduction:
 This memo provides information about the impeachment process inUtah. Although this memo provides a summary of the process, OLRGChas done more in-depth legal and policy research on impeachment andthe impeachment process. Legislators with questions or seeking moredetail may contact me.Utah's constitution, statutes, and legislative rules provide generalguidelines and requirements for the impeachment process. They alsogrant virtually absolute discretion to the House and Senate to establishthe detailed procedures for a particular impeachment. (If the House or Senate must adopt detailed procedures because an impeachmentresolution is filed, OLRGC staff can assist the House and Senate indeveloping those procedures by providing the House and Senate withexamples of processes used in Congress and other states.)
II. Sources for information about impeachment in Utah:
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Utah Constitution Article VI, Sections 17-20
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Utah Code Sections 77-5-1 through 77-5-12
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House Rule 1-6-101
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Senate Rule 1-6-101
III. Concepts
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 A Utah state or judicial officer is "impeached" if theHouse of Representatives adopts one or more articlesof impeachment by a 2/3 vote.
 
Utah Impeachment ProcessJanuary 21, 2013Page 2 of 3
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 A Utah state or judicial officer is removed from office only if the Senateconvicts the officer in a trial in the Senate after the House hasimpeached the officer.
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For example, former President Bill Clinton was "impeached" becausethe U.S. House adopted Articles of Impeachment, but he was notremoved from office because the U.S. Senate did not "convict" him.
IV. Summary of Impeachment Process in Utah:
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Resolution Initiates Impeachment
--A member of the House files aresolution calling for the impeachment of a state or judicial officer (UtahCode §77-5-3) (See Appendix A for example of an impeachmentresolution for Judge Harding in 2003)
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House Establishes Rules of Process
-- If resolution passes, Houseadopts, by constitutional majority vote, policies establishing proceduresfor, and governing the conduct of, the impeachment process (HouseRule 1-6-101) (See Appendix B for an example of the policies adoptedby the House for the Judge Harding impeachment in 2003)
<
Constitutional Standard for Impeachment
-- "The Governor andother State and Judicial officers shall be liable to impeachment for highcrimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office; . . . ." UtahConstitution Article VI, Section 19. (Because impeachment isconstitutionally vested in the legislative branch, courts have generallydeclined to interfere in the process, including declining to second guessthe legislative branch on the meaning and scope of the terms "highcrimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.")
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House Committee Action
-- Because the policies usually requirereferral of the impeachment to a House committee, the committeemeets, subpoenas and examines witnesses, documents, and other relevant material, and, if the evidence warrants, draws up Articles of Impeachment and recommends that the entire House adopt them.(Articles of Impeachment are similar to an information or indictment --they lay out, article by article, the specific charges against the personbeing impeached.)
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House Floor Action
-- The House votes on each article separately. If one or more articles receive a 2/3 vote in favor, the officer or judge isimpeached and the House submits the Articles of Impeachment to the
 
Utah Impeachment ProcessJanuary 21, 2013Page 3 of 3Senate for trial.
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Impeached Officer Suspended If Impeached
-- When the Housesubmits Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, the Senate must servea copy of the articles on the impeached state officer or judge. Onceserved, the impeached officer is temporarily suspended from his officeand may not exercise the duties of the office until/unless the officer isacquitted by the Senate. The governor temporarily appoints a person tofill the office, with confirmation by the Senate, unless the officer isconvicted. (Utah Code §77-5-6)
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Senate Establishes Rules of Process
-- Senate adopts, by majorityvote, policies establishing procedures for, and governing the conductof, the trial process. (Senate Rule 1-6-101)
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Senate Trial
-- At the trial, each senator must swear an oath to do justice according to the law and evidence. Two-thirds of the senatemust be present in order for the trial to proceed. To convict, aconstitutional 2/3 of the senators (20 Senators) must vote that one or more articles of impeachment has been proved. (Utah Code §§77-5-7,77-5-8)
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Impeachment Not a Bar To Prosecution
-- The state officer or judgecan still be prosecuted criminally whether the officer is convicted or acquitted. (Utah Constitution Article VI, Section 19; Utah Code §77-5-11)

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